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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movie Review: Cranford (2007)

Totally Awesome Period Dramas 

I've known of the period drama miniseries, Cranford, for a long time, but I never watched it because I knew the general plot and it didn't seem like anything I'd be that interested in.  Frankly, I thought it sounded boring - a town with a lot of gossipy old ladies and a new doctor in town.  That was all I knew, so you can probably understand why it didn't capture my interest.  However, I knew it was quite popular among period drama enthusiasts, so when my mom read the book and wanted to watch the movie, I decided to give it a go.  And, as usually happens with things I don't think I'll like, I loved it.  Sure, the first few minutes were a bit slow but after the falling-out-of-the-tree accident...well, let's just say I was drawn in (in a sort of morbid way, y'know).  I actually watched the last episode just this afternoon (FEEEEELS), so I thought I'd review the miniseries while it was still fresh in my mind (I'll be doing a separate review of Return To Cranford as soon as I watch it).

The Cranford Ladies (2007).
Loved this bit.
 The first thing I have to say about Cranford is the huge (and I mean huge) amount of actors and actresses I recognized from other period dramas.  I could place pretty much every name in the opening/closing credits, and it gave me a little thrill whenever I saw a new (but still familiar) face.  There were five P&P actor/actress appearances, counting both the 2005 and 1995 adaptions, as well as several other faces form Jane Austen films.  It was like a period drama reunion, in a lot of ways.  Now, since there's several characters (enough to rival Dickens at his finest), I'll list all the main ones, with quick opinions of them in parentheses (if you'll notice, I love using parentheses - if you check my blog posts, I use them all the time).

Cranford (2007)
Yay!  Mr Carter and Harry make their first appearance.  Of
course, when I saw this scene, I didn't know how much I'd
come to like them...

 I'll list them in a vague order of appearance.  To begin...Mary Smith (I liked her.  She wasn't my favorite character, but I liked her), Miss Matty (one of my favorites.  She was witty, charming, full of propriety, but not afraid to try new things), Miss Deborah (I think I would've liked it if she had stayed for the whole series - she was so much fun, in a stiff way.  Especially how she was constantly correcting Martha and telling her to add 'madam' to the end of her announcing sentences), Dr Frank Harrison (in my opinion, Simon Woods was much better in this role, than as Mr Bingley.  He was so sweet when it came to Sophie and very responsible/heroic as a doctor.  And the poor guy never even knew what hit him when all the women were accusing him to being in love with all of them.  He looked like a little lost puppy)...

Kimberley Nixon as Sophy Hutton and Simon Woods as Dr. Harrison in Cranford (TV Mini-Series, 2007). - c.1842
Awwwww!
Captain Brown (he reminded me of Mr Weston, a bit, in his character and I liked him.  He's a jolly sort), Jessie Brown (she was so sweet.  I loved her little romance with Major Gordon), Sophie Hutton (I thought her character wasn't as well developed it should have been - she seemed a little bland, but she and Frank were so, well, adorable together that I can forgive that easily), Lady Ludlow (hmmmmm...didn't quite know what to think of her.  I didn't like her at first, but by the end I found myself warming to her [it was the same with Laurentia Galindo].  I'm interested in seeing Septimus in Return To Cranford), Harry Gregson (one of my top favorite characters.  I've seen the actor who played him before in Waterhorse, so it was interesting seeing him again.  I loved his and Mr Carter's father/son relationship)...

Very Little Dorrit-ish, I think.
 As for the last couple of characters...Mr Carter (probably my very favorite character.  Which is unfortunate since he dies.  And in this case he's not my favorite character because he dies as I suspect several others have been - I already liked him a lot before that.  I love how he takes Harry under his wing, and stands up to Lady Ludlow when it's needed, and am I the only one who thinks he and Galindo should've gotten married?).  And the ladies of the village were hilarious, groan-inspiring, and kindhearted all at the same time.  The way they banded together to help Miss Maddy was spectacular.  I loved that.

I liked the overall feel of the miniseries.  It was cozy and warm and just...comfortable.  I felt good watching it (it wasn't one of those BBC productions were you invest thirteen hours of your life and emotions and get withdrawal and that sort of thing after watching it.  Little Dorrit, anyone?) and it made me laugh several times.  Now, there was the problem of the last episode.  Actually, it wasn't really a problem, in the fullest sense of the word, but...  Here, let me explain.  There were four deaths spread across the first three episodes and although all of them were sad in their own right, none were especially devastating.  No deaths cropped up in episode four, so I was feeling relieved...until I went and foolishly read Amy's review of Cranford before I finished watching the whole thing.


And I read the spoilers.  Terrible thing, I know, but it just sort of happened.  My eyes read everything before I realized what I'd done.  So, I knew Mr Carter was going to die, but I wasn't prepared for the huge barrage of feels against my emotions.  Besides Mr Carter's death (which was heartbreaking.  What was worse was that poem Harry read.  And him crying afterwards), there were good feels, but ones that brought tears nonetheless.  Frank saving Sophie.  Miss Matty reuniting with her brother.  Jessie reuniting with Major Gordon (and her dad's hilarious quote).  The wedding.  I loved it all, even if it did make me cry.  Oh, and my siblings and I were laughing over how everyone seemed to be pairing up at the end.  It made for a nice ending, though.

I'm now reading the books (Cranford, Dr Harrison's Confessions, and My Lady Ludlow).  I'll probably review them later on.

Have you ever watched Cranford?  What did you think of it?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Soundtrack Spotlight {Titanic}

Titanic 1997

A friend of mine once described Titanic as the movie with the 'dumb plot and gorgeous music' and I believe she's right.  The movie's reputation has proceeded itself (as in, I won't be watching it) but the music is beyond gorgeous and it totally deserved the academy award that it won.  The soundtrack is one of the most listened to albums on my iPod, although I usually only listen to the first few tracks, as they're the best (I don't have the theme song on my iPod, as it's not the style of music I normally listen to, but the lyrics are beautiful.  I found an Enjolras/Eponine fan-video set to the song...it's heartwrenchingly amazing).  I never knew the human voice could be such a beautiful instrument until I listened to this soundtrack.

My favorite tracks are 'Distant Memories' (the different instruments and musical textures in this piece make for amazing listening), 'Southampton' (words cannot express how much I love this piece.  It's the most gorgeous instrumental song I've ever heard - I can't listen to it enough.  It's the kind of music that makes you cry, just because it's so beautiful), 'Rose' (the film's theme tune, and deservedly so.  It's beautiful, romantic, gentle...I love it.  You should also check out this piano version - I think it's almost better than the original track), 'Leaving Port' (I mainly like this because it's partly a gentler reprise of 'Southampton', but the rest of it is beautiful in its own right), 'A Life So Changed' (basically the same as 'Never An Absolution', but I prefer it to the other one, for some reason), and 'Hymn To The Sea' (LOVE it).

Also, check out the 'Back To Titanic - Soundtrack Suite' which is a mixture of tracks from the movie, but with new orchestration.  It's a favorite of mine to listen to while I write.

Have you ever listened to this soundtrack?  What's your favorite track?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

That Post About Movies

Books vs Movies

My last post was about how I categorize the books I read (or don't read) and since I love movies almost as much as books and a couple of people asked for this post, so here I am.  Before I begin with the categorizing, let me tell you what I like (and don't like) in movies.  For me, a good movie has to have at least one of three things (and preferably all three) - awesome music, amazing acting, and an interesting plot.  I don't mind sitting through a three hour movie if it can hold my interest.  Bad acting is the bane of movies, and bad music is even worse.  Oh, and if the movie's based on a book, I want it to be extremely accurate.  Now to the categories (trash, meh, good, great, and soul).
  • Trash - Trashy movies are the ones I don't watch.  Twilight, Harry Potter, Titanic, etc., etc.  Now, some movies that I've watched can be called trash, just from a purely technical point of view.  One that quickly comes to mind is 'The Battle Of Blood Island'.  It's one of those twenty-five dollar budget movies and has become a standard in our house for terrible movies.  Another one I can think of is a 'Christian' film called 'White Wolves II' about teens who are stranded in the wilderness.  Horrible acting, terrible music, and a poorly done job all around.
  • Meh - These are the 'watch once, never again' movies, usually because they're boring/bad acting (although I've watched many meh movies more than once).  Several b&w 40's films which shall remain nameless are on the list, as well as some more modern ones (the 70's version of 'Les Miserables', 'Hugo'...).  Meh movies don't necessarily have bad acting or music (it's usually the plot that's the worst thing) but they usually leave me with the feeling of 'well watching that was a waste of time - now what?'  One of the things I do like about them is that my siblings and I can bash them in the evenings when we sit in the living room and talk.  It makes for great discussion.
  • Good - Interesting movies with medium-good music (most of the time) and okay acting.  These movies are usually what I watch with my siblings and include pretty much any cartoon I've ever seen, all the 'Air Bud' movies (they're as cheesy as dog/boy/stupid villain movies can get, but the music's amazing which covers a multitude of movie making sins, IMO), and some movie musicals like 'The Sound Of Music', 'Singing In The Rain', and 'The King And I'.  I like watching good movies, even though they can get boring after several viewings.
  • Great - It's kind of hard to think of 'great' movies because, in my head, the movie categories basically jump from 'good' to 'soul', but I'm sure I can think of something.  Okay...'Les Miserables (25thAC)', 'BBC Robin Hood', almost any Jane Austen movie/miniseries, 'Bleak House (2005)' and other movies of the same sort.  And I have quite a few soul movies, so I'll be moving on...
  • Soul - 'Les Miserables (TAC and movie)', 'Little Dorrit (2008)', both of the Anne movies, 'War Horse', 'A Bear Called Winnie', 'Stalag 17' (hmmm...I must have a thing for war movies), 'North and South', 'A Tale of Two Cities (concert)'...the list really could go on and on, but those are the main ones.  I love them all so much.  I'd watch any of them anytime, anywhere.
What are some of your favorite movies?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Because I Haven't Really Done A Post About Books Before...

Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you've finished just to stay near it. ~ Markus Zusak   Sadly, such books are extremely rare! - Quotes from books and quotes about books - Quora
 
...and they're probably my favorite thing in the entire world.  Movies are great, of course, but the book is always so much better (except in the case of Little Dorrit...the miniseries was just a wee bit better than the book).  Also, while I infinitely prefer print books to Kindle, I still love my Kindle.  I know for a fact that I wouldn't have read all the amazing books I have if I didn't have a Kindle.  I wouldn't have been able to beta-read numerous books and fall in love with fresh new plots and amazing characters and all that great stuff.  And Kindle books are much cheaper than print books which means I can actually get more books than I would if I were strictly for print books.  But I'm not here to discuss the virtues of Kindle.  I want to discuss books, as I see them, and what some of my favorites are.
 
For me, books fall in five categories.  Trash, Meh, Good, Great, and Soul.  Intriguing, right?  I'll dissect these different categories and explain what each one is about.  I'll be doing it in a bulleted list, since I like Organization.  Oh, and this system also works for movies, so if you're more of a movie-oriented person, feel free to take these as my opinions for movies as well.  To begin...
  • Trash - These are generally books I've never read because their reputation has proceeded them.  I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable when I condemn a book without reading it, but some of them are just obvious.  Twilight, anyone? (although, on a side note, I wonder how Stephanie Meyer feels when she goes online and sees everyone bashing her work...)  These are pretty much the kind of books I don't read and I don't have any interest in reading (kind of like The Hunger Games, although I'm hesitant to label it as 'trash' because it's probably much better than, say, Twilight, even in just terms of writing mechanics).
  • Meh - These are the 'one time, never again' books, but it's usually not because there's anything bad in them, per se (whenever I sense a book starting to go in the wrong direction, I just stop reading, end of story, both figuratively and literally) but they were dull and boring and bland.  I'm thinking of one book that I beta-read in particular (actually I stopped half-way through because the story just wasn't making sense) which shall remain nameless in case the author ever stops by here and gets offended.  I've also read some non-fiction that was the same way.  Overall, 'meh' books make for a mostly unpleasant reading experience (obviously).
  • Good - Books like these make me feel warm and happy and comfortable inside while I'm reading them, although they don't have to necessarily be all sweetness and light to make me feel that way (although generally they are).  Some of the titles I enjoy include Harvest of Rubies and its sequel by Tessa Afshar, Only A Novel by Amy Dashwood (and The Rochesters), several books I've beta-read, and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.  I read books like those in just a few hours, all the way through as fast as I can and then emerge dazed from the story world I was just in.  I love that feeling.
  • Great - I love great books.  Great in the sense of a long epic story with an inspiring message and unforgettable cast of characters.  Most of the classic books I read fall into this category.  Bleak House, any of Jane Austen's books but especially Emma, Jane Eyre, Romeo & Juliet...the list could go on and on.  Great books require more thinking than good books, and I usually spend several days reading them, instead of a few hours.  They're the kind of books that university students dissect, but I don't read them for that.  I read them because they're amazing books with great stories that can still teach relevant lessons for the day in which we live.
  • Soul -  The term 'soul book' can be difficult to explain, but if you've ever had one (or several), you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Soul books are the ones that wrap around your heart and soul, as well as your mind, make you cry and laugh at the same time, and fill you with a sense of amazement every time you read them, no matter how many times you have before.  The quote at the top of the post describes them perfectly, in my opinion.  Everyone's soul books are different, but some people do share the same ones.  Some of mine would be Les Miserables, Glimpses Of Truth by Jack Cavanaugh, the Selkin Series by Anne-girl, El Dorado by Baroness Orczy, A Tale Of Two Cities, and The Patriots by Jack Cavanaugh.  There are others, but those are the main ones I can think of at the moment.  Quite enough for starters, I should think.
Do you prefer Kindles or print books?  Would you like to see another post like this for movies?  What are some of your favorite books?
 
[p.s. I won NaNoWriMo yesterday.  You can read more about it here.]

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: Queen Mother

I've read two other books by Anneliese Blakeney (otherwise known as Anne-girl) and I greatly enjoyed them (such an understatement), so when she announced that her newest book, Queen Mother, was available for anyone to read if they so desired, I snapped it up right away and read it from start to finish it just a couple of hours.  It was great (although I still prefer her Selkin series, or at least what I've read of it, since nothing can really compare to those books) and I enjoyed it so much that I read it again (this may not seem like that big of a deal, but since I have an ever-growing list of books that I desperately want to read, re-reading isn't something I do lightly, especially if I've recently read the book in question).  And now on to the actual review...
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When the tiny princess goes missing in the labyrinth-like palace of Ence, the queen’s daughter by her first marriage sets out to find this unknown little sister, in hopes of gaining her mother’s love.

Let's start with the setting of the book before going on to my favorite part (the characters).  The idea of a palace as big as the Ence one freaks me out just a little bit (the soldiers who went to search for the baby princess in the palace knew they'd starve and die because the palace is so incredibly huge).  And the long hallway that Nicki runs down - the green one, with the little gold chairs - is positively scary.  I would hate to be trapped in a place like that.  On the up side, the blue room that the Rats live in is gorgeous.  I can picture it in my mind's eye and I think it would be beautiful to actually see it.  Why am I rambling about the Setting and the Palace?  Because it's such a big part of the story, that I think it's important to give at least a little space to describing it.  But now that I have, let's talk about the characters.

Oh, but before I do, I found a snippet on Anne's blog about the green hallway, so let me share it with you...
Suddenly I began to run. It was so quiet, so quiet! I couldn’t get away from the quietness. I was sobbing loudly, wildly but my noise only increased the stillness around me. I became acutely aware of my surroundings. Yet another hallway, this one painted green with little gold chairs every so often along the wall. There were no doors! I screamed. I was trapped in a hallway with no doors. It was so green. So very green. There were so many little gold chairs. They were grinning at me, taunting me because I couldn't find the doors. Nothing but green and gold and smiles and now there was laughter to. My laughter. I was laughing hysterically and the hunger inside of me roared and tried to get out. I pushed it down, frightened, and turned around suddenly knowing that the chairs were only chairs and that they could not smile. Then I fainted.
See what I mean?  Anyway...back to the characters.

Nicki is the main character who narrates the whole book.  I could really feel her struggle to gain her mother's love, as well as the pain when she was ignored and and wanting to fit in.  And I also liked how she was so kind to The Mischief (more on him in a bit).  Overall, I think she's a great heroine.  She has her own unique voice and I was totally caught up in her trials and tribulations through the whole book.  Next character...Souca.  I have mixed feelings about Souca.  One the one hand, I think she's odd, but I like how fiercely loyal she is to those she considers her friends and the way she says things and how she's really a mother to Nicki.  As for the queen mother herself...now she's an interesting character.  I always like back stories if they're done well and Maria's was really good.  It actually took up quite a sizable chunk of the book which was nice, since I really liked reading it.  In the end, I can't quite forgive her for what she did to John/The Mischief, but she does have a special place in my heart.

Of course, I have to have a favorite character, and let me tell you who it is.  THE MISCHIEF.  He was an absolute darling.  I think the back story made me really, really like him, but the way he was scared of the Outside and he was an outcast just like so many others made me intrigued and more than a little sad for him.  Honestly, I'd love it if Anne ever did a sequel or something that was about *SPOILERS* his and Souca's married life together, with Nicki.  That would be awesome. *END OF SPOILERS*  I also liked Neal a lot.  He was so happy and cheerful and just...fun to read about.  I really loved all the characters but he and The Mischief were probably my biggest favorites.

So there's my review on Queen Mother (sorry it took so long to get published, Anne).  You can download a pdf of the book here, and I highly encourage you to do so.  It's not an immensely long read, but it's one of my favorites.

Have you read Queen Mother?  What did you think of my review?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Five Favorite Animated Movies


Robin Hood (1973). Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov.
This adaption of Robin Hood has always been one of my top favorites, both of animated movies and adaptions of Robin Hood.  One of the things I love most about it is the humor.  There's so many great quotes and the scenes between Prince John and Sir Hiss are comedic gold.  I especially enjoy the one when they're at the tournament grounds, waiting for the actual event to start and talking about their plan to catch Robin Hood (which doesn't work).  The whole tournament sequence is probably my favorite part in the whole movie - from Little John's hilarious disguise to Robin's amazing 'tied-up-hero' moment to Prince John tying Hiss in a knot around a pole, it's amazing and funny.

One thing I like about this film is that the second half is a lot more serious than the first half.  I like heroes that can be funny and witty but then when true danger comes up, they're so brave and serious...that's how it is in this film.  I think the character of Robin is captured really well, but my favorite character portrayal has to be Marian.  As someone on Pinterest once said, she's more of a true princess than the other Disney princesses.  She has a natural grace and warmth about her and she truly cares for her 'subjects'.  I love that.  My favorite character after her would be Sir Hiss, mostly for the comedy of his role.  My face usually hurts from smiling/laughing after I watch this film.  Oh, and I love all the romantic scenes between Robin and Marian, especially after the tournament.  Absolutely gorgeous.
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The Great Mouse Detective
Where do I begin?  I really can't explain how much I love this film.  I think the biggest reason is the characters.  See, there are two things, for me, that make or break movies - the characters and the music, and this film does amazingly well on both points.  It's rare that I like the main character(s) the best in any movie or book, but I must say that Basil is my favorite character in The Great Mouse Detective.  He's arrogant, he's annoying, he's even a little mean at times, but I still love seeing him on the screen.  Dawson is great as a companion, and Olivia's fine as well.  Now, as know, a good villain always has to have some measly little assistant with him, and that's played out perfectly with Ratigan and Fidget (the name says it all, doesn't it?).  It's hilarious the way they interact - one of my favorite parts of the whole thing.

The music is another thing I love (unfortunately it's not all on Youtube, but I have found it on Grooveshark where I listen to it a lot).  The main theme is really catchy and both of Ratigan's songs are funny.  I featured 'The World's Greatest Criminal Mind' in the 30 Songs series, and the other one - 'Goodbye, So Soon' is great too.  This film was the first Disney animated that used computer imagery (for the gears inside the Big Ben clock) and it's amazing.  The climax is really adrenaline fueled with Ratigan chasing Basil across the Big Ben tower in the pouring rain.  And I love the ending.  It's so cozy and just...nice.

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Dr. Seuss Horton Hears a Who! PosterI'll admit that I had my doubts about watching Horton Hears A Who (as in, I flatly refused to until my parents said we were one night and that was the end of the matter) but that all went away by the first five or ten minutes of it.  And by the end, well, it had jumped onto my list of favorite movies ever.  It's brilliant, witty, clever, and very entertaining (I don't like watching non-entertaining movie.  Obviously.).  The beginning intrigued me because it didn't start out with Horton.  It started out showing how the dust speck started its journey.  Then Horton comes along, with all the other characters...I kind of wish that there had been even more scenes with Whoville than there were.  I liked the mayor as a protagonist even better than Horton and since Jojo is my favorite character (don't ask - my siblings can't believe it either), well...it's rather obvious.

There are so many great one-liners in the film.  "I feel a diplomatic process beginning to break down."  "Okayyyy...that happened."  "That's beautiful, Katie.  In a...weird...sort of way."  "And best part - I do this all gratis.  That's free, bro."  And, of course, the theme behind the entire movie..."A person's a person, no matter how small."  I love the ending as well.  It's so random and spontaneous.  Always makes me laugh (and cry a teensy, weensy bit).  
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Adventures of Tintin [2011]Tintin is another movie that I had serious doubts about.  The books are extremely popular in our house, so I should have been thrilled about the movie, right?  Wrong, apparently.  When my siblings and I first watched it, I was bored.  Incredibly bored.  I watched about twenty minutes of it, left for half an hour, came back, left...etc, etc.  The reason I hated it was that whenever I came back it seemed like nothing had changed.  Fighting, dueling, car chases and so on.  I never got the plot (I didn't even think there was one) so I wasn't interested.  Then, one day when we were looking for a movie to watch and we couldn't find one, we watched Tintin.  This time I actually sat through the whole thing (since I had nothing better to do) and I found that I liked it.  A couple more viewings cemented that idea in my head and now I love it (except the last fifteen minutes or so, where my eyes start to glaze over because of the dueling dock cranes).

The characters in this film are okay.  I mean, I really have no other way to describe them.  I don't feel particularly drawn to any of them, but I don't mind watching them.  One of the funniest scenes in the movie (and the most highly quoted in my family) is when the Thom(p)sons are in Mr Silk's living room where he keeps all his [stolen] wallets.  Observe...
Thompson: "You have to be careful.  There's a pickpocket going around, stealing wallets."
Thomson: "Yes, he'd love this."
Silk: "A pickpocket?"
Thompson: "Yes.  He's a very bad person..."
Silk: "I'm not a bad person!  I'm a kleptomaniac."
Thomson: "What's that?"
Thompson: "Fear of open spaces."
Thomson: "Poor man.  No wonder he keeps all his wallets in the living room."
My favorite part in the movie is the entire sequence of scenes in Bhaggar.  The scenery is gorgeous, I love the opera scene (the track for that is unbelievable) and it's one of the most action packed bits.  Not to mention funny, of course.  Overall, Tintin isn't the very highest movie on my favorite animated movies list, but I do enjoy watching it.
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3MOTIVOSPARA… miar com Gato de Botas...
I recently discovered this film, and it's probably my favorite animated film at the moment.  It's got everything - color, drama, action, romance, adventure, great music, funny lines, and an awesome hero.  I wasn't sure what the plot was going to be, but I'm glad the director chose to make the film much broader and more epic in scope than the original story of Puss In Boots.  One of my favorite parts was Puss' backstory, 'cause I always love a good hero backstory and this was one of the best I've seen.  Humorous, touching, and true to what the character is now.  I also liked how bits of other fairy tales/nursery rhymes were slipped into the story - Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, Little Boy Blue, Humpty Dumpty...

Just as in The Great Mouse Detective, the hero was my favorite character.  Full of charm, wit, and a dashing heroic streak, Puss is the awesome hero and I loved watching his character develop throughout the movie.  Kitty Softpaws is the typical female companion and even though I did like her, she didn't impress me all that much.  Now, the most complex character was definitely Humpty Alexander Dumpty.  He went from good to bad to good to bad to good.  It got kinda confusing.  But in the end he was good, and that's what really counts.  The scene with him and Puss and the goose right at the end was wayyyyy more dramatic than I would have expected.  I was thinking, "This is a kid's movie.  They definitely won't do what I think potentially could happen" and then it happened and I was in a state of semi-shock.  It was really sad (not Les Miserables sad, of course, but bad enough).

Before I close this off, let me do a little note on one of the cats in the place where Puss and Kitty do the dance fight.  It's the nameless cat who says "Ohhhhh..." to pretty much anything surprising (go to 5:09 in this video to see the cat do it for the first time).  It was really funny the first couple of times, but when the film ends with Puss and Kitty kissing and it did that...the term 'hysterical laughter' doesn't even begin to cover it (go to 1:40 in this video to see it there).  I'm grinning just thinking about it.  Oh...last thing...there's a fifteen minute sequel to the film on Youtube that you have to see (that is, if you've already seen the film).  It's the most adorable thing ever.

Have you seen any of these movies before?  What did you think of my reviews?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Robin Hood Week: Winners & Wrap-up

Ramblings Of A Janeite



All good things must come to an end, unfortunately, but I can't believe Robin Hood Week is already over.  Even though the participation wasn't as big as Barricade Boys Week (which, I think, can be summed up in one word - NaNoWriMo), I still had a great time reading all your comments and fangirling over something that's very near and dear to my heart.  And don't despair...I already have another blog party in the works for January or February, and now I'll be able to give you NaNo updates and write movie/book reviews.  So that'll be fun.  And now on to the winners of the character tournament and the giveaway (note: no one entered the writing contest.  Disappointing, but understandable, for the reason I gave above).

The winner of the character tournament was...

*drumroll*

WILL SCARLET

Harry Lloyd as Will Scarlet in the BBC Robin Hood. My fav charrie. ^.^

Sorry, Much.  I like you too, but not as much as Will (I think most of the fandom would agree with me, based on the poll results.  Nine to three in favour of Will).

Winners of the giveaway prizes are as follows...
  • Sierra won the gift tags
  • Caroline won the bookmark and mini wallet
  • Eowyn won the BBC Robin Hood dogtag
Note: Caroline, I do not have your email address, so if you could shoot me an email ASAP at elinorandemma@hotmail.com with your physical mailing address, I'll get the prize sent to you right away.  If you don't respond within a couple of days, I'll have to pick someone else as the winner of your prize.

Eva

Robin Hood Week: My Tag Answers

TEXT TO APPEAR 
  • How were you introduced to the story/character of Robin Hood?  My introduction to Robin Hood came through watching the animated version when I was really little.  I read the Howard Pyle book soon afterward, and I've been interested/obsessed ever since.
  • What's your favorite book or film adaption of Robin Hood?  My favorite Robin Hood book is the Paul Creswick version, and my favorite film adaption is BBC's series, with the animated adaption close behind.
  • What's you favorite Robin Hood story or legend?  Hmmmm...I really like the last chapter (in any of the Robin Hood books), no matter how sad it is.  It's a beautifully tragic story.
  • Who's your favorite character?  WILL SCARLET.  From any book or film adaption.
  • Who's your least favorite character?  The sheriff.  Again, in any book or film adaption.
  • What was the last Robin Hood-related thing you watched/read?  Well, not counting a video of a girl playing 'The Nightwatchman' on the piano, the last thing I watched was Season 2, Episode 8 of BBC's adaption.  That's the one affectionately known to my sister and I as 'the Carter episode'.  I watched it 'cause I wasn't feeling well yesterday, and I wanted something to cheer me up ;)  Oh, and apart from having Carter in it, that episode is also a favorite because of the little scene between Marian and Little John.  So sweet!
  • What is your favorite Robin Hood-related quote?  Can't think of anything from the books right now, so I'll just say it's 'WE ARE ROBIN HOOD!'
  • How would you rate your obsession with Robin Hood from 1 to 10 (with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest)?  For the books, probably a five or six.  For the animated/BBC adaptions, a ten.
Eva

Soundtrack Spotlight {BBC Robin Hood}


I've just noticed that Much's shield is often used as symbol/logo for the series.

The last day of Robin Hood Week.  *sigh*  I leave all my ramblings about how fun it's been and who the winners of the giveaway were for later, because I'm going to be focusing on reviewing the BBC Robin Hood soundtrack right now.  Oh, but first let me explain about 'Soundtrack Spotlight'.  When I did '30 Songs', I regretted leaving out all the gorgeous instrumental soundtracks that I love, so I created a new blog series.  This is the first one (obviously), but I have several others planned.  I'll be talking about why I love the soundtrack and my favorite tracks.  Let us begin...

I was thrilled when I learned that there was a soundtrack for this series, and not just any soundtrack.  A 34-track, one hour soundtrack whose music brought forth evocative images of some of my favorite scenes in BBC's Robin Hood.  That's one of the biggest things I love about this soundtrack.  It's so vivid.  Some movie soundtracks are sort of in the background, and not all that interesting, but this one always brings emotion out of me (at some tracks), which is why I love it so much.  Most of the tracks come from the first few episodes of the series, which is understandable, but which are repeated throughout the whole thing.  Often two tracks are segued together, or a slight variation is made to some of the music (I'm always sensitive to the music in movies, so I notice things like that), but most of it stays the same.

My favorite tracks are 'Locksley' (it always give me such a warm feeling inside, at least the first bit), 'Marian's Theme' (absolutely gorgeous), 'From The Rich To The Poor' (this track is melancholy and always makes me think of Little John, since it's the tune to the song that Alice sings to their son), 'Shooting Pies' (the first half of this track is serious and not all that great, but about halfway through there's this magical change to it which I love), 'Robin and Marian' (LOVE), 'Where Is She?' (the sense of urgency in this track is amazing), 'A Love That Cannot Be' (love it, as it makes me think of Much and Eve...I ship them so hard), 'The Nightwatchman' (probably in my top three favorite tracks; it's amazing, and you should really go watch this video - I always get chills), and 'Robin Hood End Credits' (always makes me sad, in a bittersweet way, for some reason).

Have you listened to the BBC Robin Hood soundtrack?  What are your favorite tracks from it?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Robin Hood Week: Character Tournament {Round 3}

TEXT TO APPEAR

I woke up sick this morning and with absolutely no inclination to write the review of the BBC Robin Hood soundtrack that I'd been planning for today, so the only post for today will be this one :(  Sorry about that.  But I hope to end Robin Hood Week with a bang tomorrow, so there'll be several posts to make up for today.  And now on to the polls...

Round 2 Winners (in bold)

  • Much/Little John
  • Will Scarlet/Robin/Guy
Round 3 Poll
  • Much/Will Scarlet
Annnnnd...I pretty much know who's going to win ;)

Eva

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Robin Hood Week: Guest Post By Miss Jane Bennet

Robin Hood Poster
Note from Eva: Miss Jane's blog - Classic Ramblings
When I think of Robin Hood, the first image that pops into my mind isn't the golden-haired, merry outlaw of the original book. Nor is it Jonas Armstrong. Instead, it's a brave fox with a drawly British accent and a penchant for mischief.  Yes, I said “fox”. Because I'm talking about the Disney Robin Hood, more generally known as “the animated version.” This movie was my introduction to Robin Hood, and it still holds a special place in my heart.
This version is really one of the best and most faithful adaptations of RH I've ever seen, despite the fact that it's made by Disney (and thus has a happy ending) and has animals as its main characters. It changed the story around quite a bit, but it has the same feeling as the book.

Now, since this is supposed to be a review, I shall start reviewing properly. And since you're supposed to begin at the beginning when writing a coherent review...I will begin with (who else?) Robin Hood himself.

Robin is a fox who lives in Sherwood Forest, steals from the rich to feed the poor, likes to tease Prince John whenever possible, and is in love with Maid Marian. There are two sides to his character: he has compassion for the people who are starving because of Prince John's rule, and he has a happy-go-lucky, laugh-whenever-possible view of life.  He is much the same as the original book, except that, well, he's a fox. And he only has one member of his merry band: Little John.

Robin is especially daring since he pairs green with his reddish-fur. A risk that might not work on the average fox, but–as we know–Robin Hood is not an average fox.

Little John is what might be termed a “sidekick.” He's a big...bear, I think, with not too much brains to spoil his temper. :D He and Robin are very good friends, and Little John is sort of the sense of the operation, although his sense doesn't go very far with a guy like Robin. However, “Johnny” (as Robin calls him), does have a sense of humor and the camaraderie between the two is very fun. Especially when Little John is teasing Robin about his love, Maid Marian.

Robin HoodMaid Marian is a very sweet fox. She loves children (and Robin, of course!) and is polite and helpful to everyone. Her dresses are gorgeous (yes, they are, even though they're animated), and she keeps a Robin reward poster in her wardrobe for lack of a better picture.  And while I'm on the subject of Maid Marian, I must say a few words about her lady-in-waiting, a hen named Lady Cluck. Lady Cluck reminds me of Mrs. Jennings a little bit- she gossips and teases Marian about Robin, but she has a good heart and she's devoted to Marian. Also, she manages to knock over an entire army of rhinoceroses. Plus a couple of towers and a few elephants.

The army and the towers belong to Prince John, a cowardly lion of sorts. His crown falls down over his ears all the time, and he...well, this song says it best:

“And he throws an angry tantrum if he cannot have his way 
And then he calls for Mum while he's suckin' his thumb 
You see, he doesn't want to play 
Too late to be known as John the First 
He's sure to be known as John the worst 
A pox on that phony king of England!”

But although Prince John can be hilarious at times, the real comic relief honor goes to his, um, snaky advisor, Sir Hiss.  Sir Hiss is always right and Prince John is always wrong, and so the prince is quite harsh on poor Sir Hiss. Hiss gets shoved into a wine cask and a wicker basket, and several mirrors are cracked over his head during the course of his career. I'll just share a few of my favorite quotes of his while I'm on the subject, because they are quoted quite often in our family.

Prince John: One more hiss out of you... uhm... Hiss, and you are *walking* to Nottingham. Hiss: Snakes don't walk, they slither. Hmph. So there.

“Sire, if you don't mind my saying, you have a very loud thumb.”

Hiss: Well, I was only trying to help. 
Prince John: I wonder. Silly serpent. 
Hiss: "Silly serpent"?

“I share your loathing, Sire. That scurrilous scoundrel who fooled you with that silly disguise, who dared to rob you and made you look so utterly ridiculous...”

See why I have a fondness for Sir Hiss?

snakes don't walk they slither. so there.

The third in the trio of villains is the Sheriff of Nottingham, a large, fat, whiny wolf. He has a habit of sleeping on the job and absolutely no sense of loyalty. He often abuses the vultures he commands (one in particular whose bow and arrow keeps malfunctioning), but he has his funny moments too, as might be guessed.

So what's my conclusion to these ramblings? If you haven't watched this movie, why, remedy that immediately, poor dear! If you have watched it, I highly advise you to watch it again. This movie perfectly captures the spirit of Robin Hood, if not the letter. This might sound cliched, but it always makes me feel like I'm seven years old again. This is a movie for everyone, at every time.

And because I'm bad at thinking up good endings for posts, I'll use one of my favorite quotes from Robin Hood, one that sums up Robin's character well:

Robin Hood: Rob? Tsk tsk tsk. That's a naughty word. We never rob. We just sort of...borrow a bit from those who can afford it.

Little John: Borrow?...Boy, are we in debt.

“It appears that I now have an outlaw for an in-law.” - King Richard from Robin Hood

Robin Hood Week: In Defense of BBC's Guy of Gisbourne

Sir Guy of Gisbourne from BBC's TV series Robin Hood. This is a good creepy picture of him too. :P :)

I really agonized over how to write this post.  I mean, even though Guy has a huge base of very loyal fangirls (and I do mean huge), he's still a murderer and I really didn't want to excuse that.  I hope that I keep the fine balance between fangirling and censure...  But I really do like Guy, and as a few of my friends don't (*cough*Petie*cough*), I felt the need to write this post.  Note: I'm not going to be even mentioning the book Guy of Gisbourne because he's really crude and awful and mean, with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  BBC's, or rather Richard Armitage's portrayal is so much better.  Oh, and there'll be lots of spoilers for the show, so if you haven't watched it, proceed with caution.

So, first I want to get the list of all (or some) of the bad things he's done out of the way, so that I can focus on defending him (although once I get through the list, I may not want to defend him any more).  For one, he's murdered several people.  Which is not exactly conducive to making people like him.  He also uses emotional - and physical - blackmail on several people, including Marian, and he fathered a child out of wedlock and then left the baby to die in the forest.  Hate that.  So, yeah, he's not exactly the nicest guy (no pun intended) around.  Oh, and he tried to murder the king several times.  Ouch.

But.

The sheriff is worse.  You've got to admit it - the sheriff is one of the meanest, cruelest villains in BBC TV show history, and I think we sometimes tend to forget that because he's so funny.  In a mean sort of way.  But I'm not here to bash the sheriff, I'm here to defend Guy.  Moving on...

I don't think that Guy is really, truly evil at heart (unlike the sheriff).  I know it's so cliched to have the bad guy have a miserable childhood and that's part of what makes him so bad, but I believe it's partly true in Guy's case.  I mean, his father was a leper who was ostracized from the village as soon as it was found out, his mom was going to marry a man that Guy pretty much hated, and he blamed himself for his mother's death throughout the years.

The one thing that sticks out to me whenever I watch Bad Blood is that when Robin shot the arrow that made the firewheel fall down, but everyone thought it was Guy, he didn't accuse Robin, he didn't give what really happened away, and they were going to hang him.  He could've probably saved his life, had he told what really happened, but he chose not to (what makes it even more heroic and brave and wonderful is that Robin was a total brat when he was little).  That was one of his finest moments.

Fast-forward several years.  Guy has taken over Robin's lands (twice!), did all the bad things I listed in the second paragraph (and more) and keeps trying to make Marian marry him (try saying that five times fast), all the while chasing his two mortal enemies - Robin Hood and The Nightwatchman.  Now, in my opinion, most of his best moments in season 1 and 2 come about when he's around Marian.  I think she truly did make him a better person.  His courageous moments, like staying with Marian/the peasants even when the castle is about to be destroyed, or helping Allan save Marian's life, are all connected to Marian (obviously).  So why does he kill her in the season 2 finale?

GAH.Before I continue, let me say that it was totally wrong of him to kill Marian (or anyone, for that matter), and I'm not excusing his behavior in any way, shape or form.  But.  There are a few things I want to say about that scene.  First of all, I can't get over how stupid Marian was.  I mean, she runs out to him, and blocks him from killing the king (which is totally fine), but then she says "I'd rather die than be with you.  I'm going to marry Robin Hood.  I love Robin Hood."  And then he stabs her.  Um, Marian, that was kind of the wrong place, wrong time, wrong person to confess your love to.  And I think that Guy stabbing her was more a reflex action than anything else.  What I mean is, when you're angry, you do things that ordinarily you wouldn't do - he was angry, he had a sword, and...yeah.  Not a good thing all around.  And he was so close to crying afterwards...the whole reflex thing certainly doesn't make his actions any better, but they do explain them a bit more (interesting tidbit of trivia: when Richard Armitage found out that his character was going to kill Marian, he had nightmares about it, up until the actual filming of the scene).

Now, up until this point, Guy has been a pretty complex character.  One minute, he's perfectly 'loving and gentle and good' and the next he's ranting about how Robin's escaped his grasp yet again, and how he's going to get him this time.  But if I thought he was complex and changeable in the first two seasons, my view on that was more firmly cemented by the time I finished season 3.  At the beginning of the last season, he has this horrid long, greasy hair, he doesn't look out for himself one bit and he's completely eaten up with guilt over Marian's death (as well he should be).  I really, really didn't like him at first.  But then when Isabella came on the scene, and he didn't like her and neither did I, I began to like him a bit more.  And by the time episode nine came up, I was firmly back in the league of Guy fangirls.

I always like using quotes in my posts, especially ones like these, as I believe it adds a little something to the post.  Petie's probably going to kill me for using one of her quotes in a post defending Guy, but I thought it was a good one, so I'm including it anyway.
I like him. Not in the way that I usually like characters, but he's actually a good character in season three. He's finally his own person. He's broken free of the Sheriff's hold on him, and even though he loses his ever-lovin' mind, he emerges a better person. And I actually like his hair because it fits him and kind of makes the "new" Guy.
Poor Guy...I really do love the way she puts things...anyway, the bit about his breaking free from the sheriff is an excellent point.  I mean, he basically kills him (again, not a good thing, but it really shows that he has broken free).  Another thing I want to bring up is his relationship with Meg (I almost typed Lucie, for some reason...that's what comes of listening to the A Tale Of Two Cities musical while I write this).  For one, she sees him for what he really is (like Marian, but more so), and she loves him anyway.  I think that kind of love is the reason that when she died, Guy didn't sink into depression like he did with Marian's death (the fact that he didn't murder Meg probably had something do with it as well), but instead, he made a fresh start.

I really love how he changes after Meg's death (didn't appreciate her death, she should've lived, but the effects of her death were amazing...that sounds weird, but anyway).  He's working together with Robin and the gang and it really is epic.  Of course, it's an uneasy truce - at least on the rest of the gang's part - but they still get along, after a fashion.  So, he redeems himself and BBC kills him off a few episodes later.  Brilliant.  His death scene was really, really heartwrenching.  It wasn't as bad as Robin's (nothing is as bad as Robin's death scene) but it still made me cry.  WHY DOES BBC HAVE TO DO SUCH THINGS??????  The series should have continued with Guy becoming a strong part of the gang and all of them fighting against injustice.

*le sigh*

Anyway, that's my defense of Guy.  And I really am horrible at closing off posts, so I'll just end it here and be done with it.

The End.

What's your opinion of Guy?  Do you view him as a villain, or just misunderstood?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Robin Hood Week: Guest Post By Petie

A blog party celebrating Robin Hood? Count me in! I confess I haven’t yet read much of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, but I am one huge fan of the character of Robin Hood. I’ve seen both the 2010 film version starring Russell Crowe and the BBC three-season series… numerous times each. :) And per Eva’s request, I will be focusing on the BBC series, Robin Hood. Not like that is an unpleasant occupation or anything. Nothing like that at all. *muffled laugh*

sooooo....i'm seriously thinking of basing the outlaws on THESE outlaws.  just have to find names for them (that reminds me...i still need a name/face for the king and duke elwin).
Note from Eva: Petie's blog - all things bright and beautiful

There is so much I could say about this series, like how hilarious Much is, or how I just love all the characters, or how much Marian annoys me, or how Allan is just genius, or how I don’t even mind how cheesy it is because I love it so much, or how Robin has the greatest crinkly-eyes smile ever, or how I’m so not a Guy of Gisborne fan (But we won’t go there, will we? I’d like to make it out of this post alive.). But suffice to say I just love the whole entire series and it’s one of BBC’s best and if you haven’t seen it yet, then what in the name of all that’s BBC is wrong with you? So right now I will just focus on my ultimate favourite characters: Will Scarlett and Djaq… but mostly Will. NO JUDGING. 

(and yes, there will be spoilers. lots of them.)

Will Scarlett <3

When we first meet Will Scarlett in episode one, he never says much, which is characteristic of him throughout the whole series. In fact, the only time Will opens his mouth is when he has something of value to say, or if he’s speaking of something he’s passionate about, such as justice or feeding the poor or defeating the Sheriff. That’s reason number one why I love Will. He never wastes words, and everything he says is important. 

Will Scarlett is probably the most passionate person in this series. He doesn’t even have to say anything for us to know what he’s thinking. Sometimes you can just see the fire burning in his eyes. He believes so strongly in justice that it affects everything he does and everything he is.


Will is tender, caring, and is always serving. As one of my friends pointed out, whenever he’s not in the forefront, he’s always in the background helping other people. And another cool thing about Will is that he never craves to be in the spotlight. He’s perfectly content being in the background, quietly serving. And he’s the only member of the gang Robin entrusted Marian to when Robin thought he was going to die. I think that right there says a lot.

Will & baby <3

I guess BBC was trying to emphasize Will’s humility, so they don’t really focus on him a lot. In fact, I can think of only one episode that is concentrated mostly on Will (Season Two Episode Four). But that one episode tells you scores of things about him, the main thing being that no matter what, “Will Scarlett always does the right thing.” *insert inspiring music* And that’s what he proves over and over again throughout the series, especially when he comes back after he and Allan almost ran away with the goods at the end of Season One. I’m actually glad the filmmakers put that bit in there, because it shows that although Will isn’t perfect (and what’s more boring than a perfect hero?), but eventually he’ll always make the right decision.

My dad, he did it for me. He stood up to the sheriff to prove himself to me.

So to put it simply, I am arguably the biggest Will Scarlett fan in existence (I dare anyone to challenge that). Nope, he’s not flawless, but he is an all-around amazing guy and the best character in the Robin Hood series, IMHO. He is loyal, brave, crazy smart, and hey, he can chisel through doors and cut through hinges and make keys just like that. And his skill with that axe of his should not be underestimated. I just love the guy, okay? Him and his Nike tennis shoes (courtesy of BBC’s low costume budget). And does anyone mind me saying that on top of all that he’s just plain adorable? Good. I didn’t think you would. 

yup. he’s so adorable he can make a goofy outfit look good.

Now we bounce back to Episode Five of Season One and in comes Djaq, the feisty little Saracen girl who rocks Will’s ever-lovin’ world. *grins wickedly* (Really, just thinking about them together makes me all giggly.) Djaq is my second favourite Robin Hood character. She’s amazing at being a strong fighter, but such a soft little woman at the same time. (“Pepper! OUCH!”) It was darling to see her develop from being a tough girl who tries to hide her weaknesses to a confident woman who isn’t afraid to express her feelings. As Season Two progresses, the real Djaq begins to unfold. And oh, how she loves the other guys in the gang. I love how at some point, the series will always take a moment to highlight her relationship with each one.

she was better in season 2, in my opinion, but i still liked her in season 1.  her hair probably had something to do with it :)

But then, AS WE ALL KNOW, there is one she loves more than the others. DO I EVEN HAVE TO SAY HIS NAME. (You guys better just brace yourselves for a major case of caps lock.) Who can deny the utter adorability of their entire relationship? From their awkwardly amazing first scene together (“You spy on me!” *branch-thwack*) to the iconic “I think I love her” scene in Episode Eight Season One. After that scene, I was pretty much idiot-grinning whenever Djaq and Will were within a three-mile proximity of each other. That scene is so epic is so many ways. Am I right or am I right?

THE BEST PART IN SEASON ONE.

Instead of making it totally obvious and plastered on the screen for all to see, I just loved all the little hints and subtle clues BBC gave regarding Will and Djaq’s growing feelings toward each other, mostly through looks and little hand-touches. I probably wearied my family with all my squealing, “RUN IT BACK RUN IT BACK WILL HAS HIS HAND ON HER SHOULDER OH MY GOODNEEESSSSSSSS” (because, as you are probably aware, he does it more than once; cautiously at first, and then more confidently later :D ). When I really flipped out was at the end of Episode Five Season Two. “OH MY WORDYNESS SHE PUT HER HAND ON HIS CHEEK SHE LOOOVES HIM SHE LOOOVES HIM SOMEBODY JUST PINCH ME *SWOON-PLOP*” It just kept escalating more and more through the series (and believe me, the more their relationship escalated, the louder my screams were escalating)

See? SEE? THE HAND. THE HAAAAAANNNND.

And then… THEN. We reach Episode Twelve Season Two. Let the real screaming commence. After two whole seasons of waiting, Will and Djaq finally reveal their feelings, albeit tragically, because they believe they’re about to die. (And also hysterically, because it’s all in front of the rest of the gang, minus Allan, of course. I always wonder what he’s thinking when Will and Djaq are suddenly holding hands and openly googly-eyed over each other.) And even though Much does his best to ruin the emotion of the moment, this scene goes down in the Most Adorable and Utterly Squeal-Worthy TV Show Scenes in the History of Ever Hall of Fame. I honestly think Djaq suggested the whole Kalila (or however you spell it) night thing just so it wouldn’t seem as weird when she just up and announced, “So I’m in love with you, Will Scarlett!” But the way she says it is so much better…

Quite possibly one of the cutest scenes ever to be written <3

The best part about this scene (Ha, you didn’t think I would spend this long on one scene, did you? THINK AGAIN.) is Will’s face. He’s shocked. Utterly dumbfounded. And then so happy he can hardly contain himself. AND HIS SMILE. YOU COULD KNOCK ME OVER WITH A FEATHER.

*siiiiiigh*

Frustratingly, we only get one and a quarter episodes of Will and Djaq as an official couple. But at least BBC made sure that little bit was chock full of cuteness. For example, Will’s smug little “She’s with me” line. Or Djaq’s passionate, “I would never leave you, Will Scarlett.” Or how about them just walking hand in hand? Not many people can simply walk hand in hand and look so doggone adorable.

They are just...PERFECT.

But then the end of Episode 13 comes and the entire Will and Djaq fandom is ripped to pieces.

BECAUSE THEY LEEAAAVE THE SHOOOOOOOW. *wails uncontrollably*

Seriously. What on earth was BBC thinking? Of course, I’m majorly glad BBC didn’t kill Will and Djaq, but if they had to make them leave the show, I wish they would have done it differently than they did. Because Will and Djaq suddenly deciding to stay in the Holy Land, right after Robin lost Marian and needed them most, was totally uncharacteristic of both of them. What about justice? What about England? What about fighting for the poor? Last I checked the Sheriff was still in control. England still needed them and their epicness! And the farewell scene was awful. You could blink and miss it. And those Middle Eastern clothes really don’t do Will any favors. URRRRGGGHHH THAT’S REALLY NOT HOW I WANTED TO SAY GOODBYE TO MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS, BBC. Thank you for officially ruining Season Three for me.

They need to make a special episode with all the old cast, getting together and remembering Robin on say, the tenth anniversary of his death. Will and Djaq and their kids, Much and Eve and their kids, the rest of the gang still fighting injustice.....

I’m sure if I thought long enough, I could list every single solitary detail there is to say about Will and Djaq, but this post is long enough already. The point has been made. They are simply incredible characters in an incredible show. I will love them forever and a day.

Honestly, it’s difficult to figure out a graceful way to end this post (outros have never been my strong suit), so I guess I’ll just say au revoir and include my favourite picture of Will and Djaq. I’m not sure why it’s my favourite, but it always has been and probably always will be. 


Long live Will and Djaq! WE ARE ROBIN HOOD!

Robin Hood Week: Robin & Marian

I kinda love this illustration.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian.  One of the most well known and well loved literary couples - and with good reason.  Every hero has to have a strong woman behind him which makes the two perfect for each other.  Added to that numerous film adaptions that play up Robin and Marian's romance more than the books ever did, and you have a formula for a couple that is many people's absolute favorite.  But where did this all begin?

Marian was one of the last characters to join the ranks of Robin Hood, which can seem quite surprising since her romance with Robin is one of the main focuses of my films.  However, she was originally cast as a rich noblewoman who had little romantic ties with Robin.  Even Howard Pyle's adaption of the story didn't bring her out into the light because there are exactly two passing references of her throughout the whole book.  Now, Paul Creswick's version has much more of Marian (and I really love how she's portrayed - bold and more than a little feisty, but still ladylike and gentle), but I don't think that the whole romance story had really 'evolved', since she and Robin are portrayed as two young adults with crushes on each other, than a more steadfast love, at least in my opinion.

cute :)
Absolutely love this quote.
And then movies started being made out of Robin Hood and Robin and Marian's relationship was taken to the silver screen where everything is enhanced and built up.  I believe that the 1938 adaption of Robin Hood was my first real introduction to period drama romances, and I loved it.  Still do, actually.  And, of course, the animated Robin Hood has a sigh-worthy romance (even if everyone is portrayed as an animal - it's still cute) and don't even get me started with BBC's show.  I mean, they actually get married and it's amazing and gorgeous and so happy (for about two minutes).  Yeah, I really, really like how BBC portrayed their relationship.

Now, I want to take a few moments to ramble about Marian, because I don't feel like giving her a whole post, but I do have some things to say about her.  First of all, like I said above, I can't find a single fault with her portrayal(s) in the different versions of RH I've read that actually have her as a character.  She's kind, gentle, brave, bold, a bit impetuous, and just very sweet.  In a couple of versions I've read, she and Robin get married and have children and it's really adorable (of course, then they have to put an epilogue saying she died of a fever later on, leaving Robin nearly mad with grief).

Robin Hood's BBC Maid Marion...
See what I mean about her dresses?
However, most film versions tend to portray her as more independent and headstrong (with my favorite exception to this being the animated Maid Marian, who's incredibly gracious, kind, and just plain ladylike).  I'm mostly talking about BBC's, or rather Lucy Griffith's portrayal.  Know, while Marian certainly had her good points, I loved her more for Robin's sake than anything else.  In season one, she's quite condescending, standoffish and just plain unlikable, for the most part.  Up until episode twelve, I didn't really like her that much.  But then when she and Robin had a sort of 'breakthrough' in their relationship, she improved quite a bit.  

My biggest complaint about her is the way she used guilt trips on both Robin and Guy, and led Guy on to believe that there could be something between them.  I know that much of the time she was trying to distract Guy from Robin or fighting for her own safety, but a lot of it was unacceptable, plain and simple.  And I think it was incredibly stupid of her to tell Guy she would rather die than be with him and that she was going to marry Robin while he has a sword within inches of her.  I would never do that.  Anyway...she does have gorgeous hair and beautiful clothes (for the most part), she is kind to others less fortunate than herself, and she loves Robin, so I do still like her.  Just not as much as other portrayals.

Robin and Marian.  One of literature's most beloved pairings - and one of mine.

Uh, yeah. I'm adding them again because I love them so much! Marian and Robin (BBC Robin Hood 2006)
D'awwwwwww.
What are your thoughts on Robin and Marian?  How do they rank on your list of favorite literary couples?

Monday, November 04, 2013

Robin Hood Week: Character Tournament {Round 2}

TEXT TO APPEAR

Round 1 winners (in bold)
  • Robin/Marian
  • Little John/Allan a Dale
  • Will Scarlet/Will Stutely (may I point out that Will Scarlet won 16 to 0?  LOVE YOU GUYS)
  • Much/Friar Tuck
  • Guy/Sheriff
Round 2 Polls
  • Much/Little John
  • Will Scarlet/Robin/Guy
Who did you vote for?

Robin Hood Week: Guest Post By Sierra

Illustrations by Greg Hildebrandt in "Robin Hood"
Note from Eva: Sierra's blog - A Burst Of Many Colors
Hey everyone, I’m Sierra! So at first when Eva asked me to write for Robin Hood week I’d planned on something completely different than this, but plans changed. Now you’re going to get to hear about some very old legends and myths about Robin Hood. I really hope I don’t bore everyone to death, really I don’t. This was a lot of fun researching, but when I started writing this started to sound like a very boring scholarly piece. Anyhow, to make it hopefully less boring I’ve construct a sort of timeline of major legends or myths starting when the figure of ‘Robin Hood’ first appeared up until the Sherwood ‘version’ of Robin Hood in the late 17th Century.

The 13th Century

Here we find the very first references to Robin Hood. There are no stories, legends, or anything very interesting at all, actually. All there seems to be is the new name 'Robinhood', 'Robehod' or 'Robbehod' cropping up in different ‘legal’ papers. All it seems to tell of is a man (or men) who had taken to the woods for some reason or another. So, it’s possible one of these men started the actual legend of Robin Hood, though I doubt we will ever know.

The 14th Century

Now we find something interesting, although there’s not much to go off of. First, William Wallace (Braveheart, anyone?) is referred to as Scottish Robin Hood in 1304. Second, around 1362-1386 we find the very first literary reference to Robin Hood in William Langland’s Piers Plowman. Interestingly the poem is actually about the search for the authors meaning in his Christian life in the light of Medieval Catholic rule.

"I know not perfectly my Paternoster as the priest it sings, but I know rhymes of Robyn Hood and Randolf Earl of Chester."

And for the sake of your sanity I found you a translated version, because the old English version is like a code.

The 15th Century

I promised this wouldn’t be boring, and the 15th Century is far from it. Guys, here we find the first reference to Robin Hood living in the woods with his merry men!

First we find a verse in a very old chronicles written around 1420:

Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude Wayth-men ware commendyd gude In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale.

See look, there’s Little John and Robin ‘Hude’. We also see Barnesdale mentioned for the first time, which is later referenced in other legends of Robin Hood. As for the last bit…I couldn’t find a good translation anywhere so your guess is as good as mine about what it means. Then not long after another mention crops up of Robin Hood and his men living in the woods like insurrectionist:

"who having no liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection, wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be Robyn Hude and his meyne."

Have fun deciphering all that :P Anyhow, the comment wasn’t actually about Robin Hood, but a man in Derbyshire who had apparently acted in the same way as this ‘Robyn Hude’ (note they’re still spelling ‘Hood’ as ‘Hude’ although the first name spelling has changed).

But it gets better because by 1450 you find what most people consider the first real ‘tale’ of Robin Hood, which is actually a ballad called A Lyttell Geste of Robyn Hode (A Little Tale of Robin Hood). In this lengthy ballad you find the origins to many common Robin Hood stories such as the contest with the silver/gold arrow. This is also the first time Robin is referred to as a ‘good’ outlaw whereas previously all association with ‘Hode’ has been rather negative.

Then another ballad pops up, which is relatively popular one called Robin and the Monk. Here’s a link to a pretty loose, but easy to read the translation of the ballad.  Both of these ballads bring in Much, Little John, Will Scarlet, Nottingham, and the Sheriff!

16th Century

Hey, Shakespeare fans (yes Eva, I’m talking to you and a bet you didn’t know this.) But William Shakespeare did make references to Robin Hood in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and As You Like It. The first reference is made when Valentine is banished and is approached by outlaws in the woods who say, "By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar, this fellow were a king for our wild faction!" and once again When the exiled Duke Senior gets brought up in a conversation and Charles says that he’s "already in the forest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England."

17th Century

This is when Robin is first portrayed as the Earl of Huntington, although the legend talks of events that happened 400 years before (around the year 1247) the context of the story is even considered fictional because Robert Earl of Huntington is such a shadowy figure. But this inscription was supposedly found on a tombstone at the birth place of the Earl:

Here underneath this little stone 
Lies Robert Earl of Huntington 
Never archer there as he so good
And people called him Robin Hood 
Such outlaws as him and his men 
Will England never see again

In another ballad we find a story involving Alan-a- Dale and Robin rescuing his lover from an old knight who had purchased her. It’s a very entertaining tale.

Also, up until the 17th Century Marian was never really a part of the ballads even though she had become a part of the legend (though sometimes by the name Matilda) via France. Actually…it’s a pretty interesting story, but much too tell or explain. . But if you want to read about the early Marian/Robin go look into Adam de la Halle’s Le Jeu de Robin et Marion (Year 1283) Anyhow, back to the point, in the late 17th Century a ballad called Robin Hood and Maid Marian appears. In the tale Robin is still being referred to as the Earl of Huntington The story is absolutely epic since it involves Marian living in the woods as part of Robin’s gang. And below I included two of my favorite verses. *sigh* It’s so beautiful.

The Earl of Huntington, nobly born, 
That came of noble blood 
To Marian went, with a good intent, 
By the name of Robin Hood.

With kisses sweet their red lips meet 
For she and the earl did agree; 
In every place, the kindly embrace, 
With love and sweet unity.

18th Century

Honestly not much changed in the ballads during this time...and if you think about it I'm sure the world was a bit more concerned with things other than Robin Hood. There are some poets who draw upon his character, but many of them are little known and stray from the popular idea of Robin Hood. Many make him out to be rather stupid and even violent.


Robin of Locksley and Sherwood Forest

However, in the 19th Century we find Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and the first mention of what we consider to be our modern day Robin takes place. Locksley, a supporter of Richard the King Lionheart is presented once again as a merry and noble gentleman helping the King and Wilfred Ivanhoe fight against the Templars. Add in a few other books, movie productions, and TV shows and you end up with our modern image of Robin.
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